Besides honey, honey bees also produce beeswax, propolis, royal jelly and bee bread.
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
Every day, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) statisticians work hard to produce timely, accurate and useful statistics to U.S agriculture. In addition to producing hundreds of reports each year on crops, livestock and economic indicators for the agriculture industry, NASS collects and reports annual data for honey bee colonies. Historically, we’ve only surveyed operations or farms with five or more colonies, but in 2015 we expanded the survey to cover operations of all sizes. As a statistician who is also a beekeeper, I am pleased to provide valuable information about honey as a public service and decision-making tool.
The annual honey report publishes the maximum number of honey producing colonies, honey yield, value of honey production, and honey price by color class and marketing channel. In addition to bee and honey surveys, the Census of Agriculture, which is collected every five years, publishes number of operations, number of colonies, pounds of honey produced and value produced. NASS has data on honey production dating back to 1986. Current honey and honey bee data is available on the NASS website. Read more »
USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will hold its annual Data Users’ Meeting, followed by a live Twitter #StatChat at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday, October 18.
As I’ve learned over my years with the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), in order to make an impact, our information needs to meet the needs of the people who use the data we produce. And while we constantly try to gauge and meet their needs, it is imperative to speak to our data users directly to get their input. We are open to feedback all the time and we hold annual special Data Users’ Meeting in Chicago every October.
Of course face-to-face interaction has its limitations since not everyone can travel to Chicago to meet with us. To address this concern, for the first time this year, we are also adding a social media component to our Data Users’ Meeting. Immediately following the panel session at the meeting, from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Central Time, I will be answering questions via Twitter during our monthly #StatChat. Read more »
About 44 percent of managed honey bee colonies have been lost over the past year. (iStock image)
Without pollinators, we don’t eat—it’s simple as that—and, at the moment, large numbers of pollinators are dying. With the world’s population projected to exceed 9 billion in just the next 30 years or so, that is not a good position for us to be in.
More than 90 species of U.S. specialty crops require pollination, and various animals, including bees, butterflies, moths, bats, and birds are a critical part of the pollinator-plant ecosystem. Despite the myriad species of pollinators available, American farmers rely on one species of honey bee, Apis mellifera, for most of the pollinator services to pollinate their crops. Wild and managed bees together add $15 billion in crop value each year. Read more »
Farmers Scott and Susan Hill in front of their pollinator garden. “We had an agricultural specialist visit our farm operations who told us we needed more pollinators,” explained Susan Hill. “We initially added two bee hives and established a pollinator garden. It was amazing, our tomato production increased by 25 percent in the first year!”. Photo by Hill Farm
Since it’s National Pollinator Week, it seemed fitting to express my thanks to farmers Scott and Susan Hill – who run the Hill Farm outside Charlottesville, VA. Earlier, I had the chance to visit their 10-acre property former tobacco farm to see firsthand how hard they are working to grow a variety of produce for the local customers. But there are more little workers helping on the Hill Farm too. Pollinators!
In the United States, about one third of all agricultural output depends on pollinators. Insects and other animal pollinators are vital to the production of healthy crops for food, fibers, edible oils, medicines, and other products. It’s clear that pollinators are important to the Hill Farm for their production of their artisan and specialty varieties of several vegetables, including lettuce, asparagus, tomatoes and even golden beets. And the first year, the addition of bees increased their tomato production by 25 percent. Read more »
Goldenrod pollen is a key protein source for honey bees in the fall. Photo by David C. Smith, Williams College
All this month we will be taking a look at what a changing climate means to Agriculture. The ten regional USDA Climate Hubs were established to synthesize and translate climate science and research into easily understood products and tools that land managers can use to make climate-informed decisions. The Hubs work at the regional level with an extensive network of trusted USDA agency partners, technical service providers, University collaborators, and private sector advisers to ensure they have the information they need to respond to producers who are dealing with the effects of a variable climate. USDA’s Climate Hubs are part of our broad commitment to developing the next generation of climate solutions, so that our agricultural leaders have the modern technologies and tools they need to adapt and succeed in the face of a changing climate.
Honey bee health and climate change would both rank high on anyone’s list of hot topics in agriculture these days.
Lewis H. Ziska, an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant physiologist, with what is part of the Northeast Climate Hub in Beltsville, Maryland, knows this. He also knows that any study involving both honey bees and climate change should be carefully conducted and cautiously interpreted. Ziska has been studying the effects of climate change on plants since 1988. He has been focusing on how rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels accompanying climate change are affecting a wide range of plants—from important food crops to noxious weeds. Read more »
Students from Baltimore and Washington, D.C. schools try out different scientific careers like ARS bee researcher at the White House Day at the Lab.
“Whoa! Do you have bees in there?” is not something the Secret Service asks every day, even of scientists when they come to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which sits next to the White House West Wing and houses most of the staff offices.
It was just a month ago that agronomist Eton Codling, from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Crop Systems and Global Change Lab, and I, research leader of the ARS Bee Research Lab, were on our way into the White House. We were there to represent USDA at the White House Day at the Lab to give young students a taste of exciting science careers they may never have considered or even known about otherwise. Read more »